Picky eaters can miss out on a lot of delicious, nutritious food when their “I-don’t-eat-this” list is as long as their arm.
And for those who cook for picky eaters, well, it can be challenging.
Try these tips to not only help nourish your family but also provide a stress-free mealtime.
1. Shop and cook with the kids
Kids are more likely to taste a dish if they helped plan or prepare it. Letting kids choose vegetables in the produce section or the frozen food aisle will empower them. Have them help you in the kitchen, too. Assign them age-appropriate tasks, such as stirring, chopping or measuring ingredients. Being involved gets the kids invested in the final product and piques their curiosity to try it.
2. Cook one meal for the whole family
Serve one meal for everyone in the family — with no exceptions. But plan meals that include at least one thing that everyone likes. The habit of preparing different foods for everyone is exhausting, and it can take much longer for children to learn to like new foods.
3. Keep offering new foods
It’s normal for children to be cautious of new things — including food. Research has shown it sometimes takes 11 tries for a child to decide they like a new food. So, keep serving it. Even allow a child to touch the food or play with it to learn how it might feel in their mouth. Always ask that they take one bite.
4. Avoid the clean plate club
Help kids focus on eating until they are full rather than finishing every last bite on their plate. Small children have small bellies so they may get full faster than you realize. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Serve one tablespoon of food for every year the child is for each dish of the meal. So, for example, you would serve a 3-year-old child three tablespoons each of peas, noodles and chicken.